Energy Department invests millions to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing

A $25 million federal grant will speed the construction of a solar manufacturing plant in San Diego, in an effort to boost U.S. competitiveness.

Semiconductor maker Soitec Solar, recipient of the Department of Energy grant, will pour the funds into equipment at its Rancho Bernando-area plant. Production is set to start before the end of the year on concentrated photovoltaic modules that use optical lenses to focus sunlight on tiny, highly efficient solar cells.

A publicly traded company based in Bernin, France, Soitec entered the concentrated photovoltaics business in 2009 with the purchase of Concentrix Solar, a spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institutes, a network of publicly funded research centers in Germany.

Soitec received the largest share of $37 million in Energy Department grants designed to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing over the next two years.

 

More on this$25 million federal grant speeds solar factory construction

 

 

More about Soitec’s CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) modules:

Soitec’s CPV modules are built on Concentrix technology. They use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times and focus it onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. This technology has helped us achieve world-leading AC system efficiency increases of 25% in actual operating conditions. This is almost twice as high as the efficiency increases achieved using conventional silicon systems.

 

Click for a video description of this technologyConcentrix Technology

 

 

 

Continue reading Energy Department invests millions to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing

What’s it like going solar (installing panels on your roof)?

I’ve been seeing a lot more solar panels installed on homes. Which has me wondering, what is the impact on cost, inconvenience, and utilities.

Scott over on the Zero Waste Blog has the perfect, written-by-an-engineer, write-up. It is worth reading the whole thing, but here is a meaty excerpt:

So what has the impact been? Well, we did actually turn up the heat – so I don’t have to wear the puff jacket all the time. But despite the relaxation of the “thermostat tyranny”, we have seen a huge decrease in our month bills:

  • For our first full month (FEB 13 to MAR 14): We used negative 5 kWh (our meter ran backwards). Of course, in Northern California, we had a sunny, warm February, with virtually no rain. For the same period in 2011, we used 601 kWh.
  • For the 2nd month (MAR 14 to APR 13): We used 141 kWh. Last month was cold and very rainy (i.e., less solar power), we had guests and turned up the electric heaters. For the same period in 2011, we used 567 kWh.
  • Bottomline: Our total electric bill for two months is $17.50, plus $8.88 in unavoidable taxes, etc. For comparison sake, the same two months last year cost us $207.28.

keep readingZero Waste Blog

 

// Photo – Pink Dispatcher